Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Already having swapped the United States for China as their largest trading partner, South Koreans are increasingly opting for Chinese language study for business purposes, eschewing former frontrunner English.

China’s economic growth and corresponding global influence is cited as a no-brainer for the immediate future. This development is another strong indicator. Cultural obstacles aren’t as significant as you might think, the Korean War and North Korea notwithstanding; rapproachment with Japan, whose role as former colonial overlord still causes friction, was a much bigger hurdle to overcome.

A natural assumption might be that it would be easier for Koreans to gravitate toward Chinese, as it’s another Asian language from a historically influential culture. But because Chinese is a tonal language, and Korean (like English and Japanese) is a stress language, there’s a fundamental difference in linguistic structure. In some ways, it’s easier for a Korean speaker to learn English than to learn Chinese (although there’s a lot of Chinese-derived vocabulary in Korean, as with many East Asian languages, which evens things out a little).

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/19/2004 02:44:35 PM
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